Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is serious about making peace with Israel, President Shimon Peres said Thursday in a meeting with Pope Benedict XVI. “All the leaders involved... are serious in their intentions and understand the seriousness and supreme importance of achieving peace,” he said.
“The alternative to peace is a radical and dangerous Iranian hegemony in the entire Middle East,” Peres warned.
The Pope told Peres that he is praying for peace. A peace deal between Israel and the PA would have “world-wide historical value,” he emphasized.
He called to increase religious involvement in the peace process. All faiths should give religious and spiritual support to negotiations, he said.
Peres mentioned Iran's nuclear program, and said that allowing Iran's leaders to obtain nuclear weapons “borders on global suicide.” Iran seeks to take over moderate countries in the Middle East, he said. “We are talking about pure imperialism that uses religion as a disguise.”
Peres also asked the Pope for assistance in securing the release of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Pope Benedict XVI said he would do what he could to help.
The Pope condemned the two shooting attacks in Judea and Samaria this week in which four people were killed and two wounded.